Harrow the Ninth
August 7, 2020 8:17 AM - by Muir, Tamsyn - Subscribe

The second volume of Tamsyn Muir's Locked Tomb trilogy.

After the ordeal at Caanan House, Harrowhark Nonagesimus is now Harrowhark the First, ninth saint to serve the King Undying. Beset from without by nigh-unkillable Resurrection Beasts, and from within by Blood of Eden insurgents, the Emperor and his Lyctors regroup at his Mithraem, 40 billion light years removed from the Dominicus system.

But Harrow has her own problems. One of her fellow Lyctors keeps trying to kill her. The others, new and old, are barely any more trustworthy. Her memories are shifting and inconsistent, haunted by a murderous invulnerable Sleeper. Finally, she is only half the Lyctor she ought to be - somehow she cannot tap into the same infinite well of thanergetic energy that gives the other Lyctors their power, or access the martial prowess of her cavalier.

With only a collection of sealed letters from her past self, Harrow must navigate her own trauma to solve these mysteries in time to save herself.
posted by rustcrumb (46 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I’m about a third of the way through. Excellent world building, and the mystery is even more compelling than in Gideon.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:37 AM on August 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

Also “The Mysterious Study of Dr. Sex,”, a side story on Tor.com.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:01 AM on August 7, 2020 [8 favorites]

I'm waiting on my copy from the library. I am very excited.

Thanks for linking to that story on Tor.com, GenjiandProust. I didn't realise I missed Palamedes and Camilla that much, but OH BOY DO I!
posted by minsies at 9:19 AM on August 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

I’m about a third of the way through. Excellent world building, and the mystery is even more compelling than in Gideon.

Oooh that's excellent to hear. I thought the mystery was one of the weaker parts of the loveable but rough around the edges Gideon. I went into that book thinking I would hate it (I generally dislike trendy, memeish books) but actually ended up really enjoying it! Consequently, I've been looking forward to this.
posted by smoke at 6:16 PM on August 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm going to be the pail of cold water in this thread. I finished this an hour ago, and while the book is good and a fast read, I found it to be not as strong as the first outing. Harrow isn't as distinct of a character as Gideon, and she never really gelled for me. I think she worked better when viewed from the outside than when viewed from the inside. The magic system goes completely off the rails, and I lost any hope of reasoning about it maybe 2/3's of the way through. It felt more like Amber (from what I understand, I've never read that) than D&D.

4.5 / 5 stars.
posted by Balna Watya at 10:09 PM on August 7, 2020 [2 favorites]

I re-read the first act preview a few times, and I will have to re-read Harrow to get some details better, like the letters Harrow hallucinates.

(Rot-13 for light spoilers) Ohg vg jnf jbegu vg sbe gur Pbssrr Fubc NH (jvgu Wrnaarznel naq Vfnnp cenpgvpnyyl ynhtuvat guebhtu cynlvat gurve ebyrf) naq gur Qnq Wbxr. V ernyyl nccerpvngrq ubj gur punenpgref jub tbg xvyyrq va Tvqrba tbg fbzr fcnpr gb fuvar.
posted by sukeban at 11:47 PM on August 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

After massively enjoying the first book, I also had mixed feelings on this. It's a very slow starter and straight man Harrow was never going to be as fun as Gideon.

On the other hand there was the same powerful mood on the ship that I loved about Canaan. That looming portentous dread. And the other characters on the ship and their awful, awful chemistry was lovely. Especially God and His flippancy. That's the best thing about these two books I think - that they can manage deathly po-faced seriousness as well as some brilliant humour, each amplifying rather than undermining the other (I was not expecting a Homestar Runner reference).

It was nice that there were enough clues to the mystery to make the reader feel clever for figuring it out. Good that (like Gideon The Ninth) it kept the world-building implicit, because it feels so much more natural that way.

Are we ROT13ing spoilers? OK then -
Gur 2aq crefba aneengvba jnf n ovt pyhr gung V'z tynq cnvq bss, orpnhfr gur obbx jnf vzzrqvngryl zber rawblnoyr bapr Tvqrba pnzr onpx. Ba gur bgure unaq, vg nyfb unccrarq whfg jura V fgnegrq gb nccerpvngr gur obbx ba vgf bja zrevgf. Naq gura V jnf erzvaqrq ubj zhpu zber sha Tvqrba'f ibvpr vf guna Uneebj'f ("gurfr zbgureshpxref unq n uhatre gung bayl guhzof pbhyq fngvfsl")

All in all, yet another victim of "2nd book in the trilogy" syndrome: resetting the pieces after book one and setting up for book three. I'll still be buying Alecto the Ninth on day one, and probably the next thing Tamsyn Muir writes too.
posted by Lorc at 6:32 AM on August 8, 2020 [2 favorites]

I bought it day 1, but haven't had time to read it yet. It's hard to imagine that it will seem as fresh as Gideon did, but I am hopeful that she has a good tale in mind.
posted by OHenryPacey at 11:11 AM on August 8, 2020

I just finished a quick second read through to put some of the pieces together. I liked this a lot; I agree that it definitely has a case of middle-of-a-trilogy syndrome, but didn't think it was fatal.

Ng fbzr cbvag va obbx guerr Tvqrba unf gb orpbzr n jvfr-penpxvat fxryrgba, gurer'f fvzcyl ab bgure jnl vg pna or. Vg fbeg bs znqr frafr gb orapu Tvqrba sbe zbfg bs guvf fvapr gur cbjre yriryf bs rirel punenpgre jrer fb bss gur punegf, ohg V jnf irel tynq gb frr ure onpx ng gur raq. Tbq vf n pbzcryyvat ivyynva, juvpu vf n pbby fragrapr.

Ubj guvf rzcver bcrengrf naq jung fpnyr vg rkvfgf ba erznvaf pbashfvat, ohg vg'f fhpu n sha havirefr.
posted by Rinku at 3:44 PM on August 8, 2020

Why are spoilers being obscured at all? Fanfare policy welcomes them below the fold, and what are the comments for if not discussing the work in question?

If you must use spoilers, I would like to encourage you to use the <details> tag instead of rot13 (or both if you take pity on anyone still using IE).
posted by thedward at 8:28 PM on August 8, 2020 [11 favorites]

I mean, I agree in principle but it seemed rude to post open spoilers in a thread where multiple people are checking in to say "I've bought this but haven't finished it / am looking forward to reading it".

Ta for the tip on the "details" tag though.
posted by Lorc at 2:48 AM on August 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

Yeah, weve discussed rhis numerous times in the past. Consideration is due and welcome all around. Very early in threads there are often comments by about-to or just-begun or tentative readers/viewers so at the beginning some spoiler avoidance is houghtful and generous, though not "a rule". More generally, spoilers are acceptable.

In any case, obfuscation by ROT13 or similar is strongly discouraged everywhere on Metafilter. Alternatively, <details> doesn't work on all browsers. 🤷🏻

As it happens, I opened this thread without starting the book because I've highly anticipated it, but as is increasingly the case these days, I can barely recall the first book beyond the most general stuff. I thought maybe there'd be a discussion of this problem, or a quick synopsis.

I can't possibly overstate how grateful I am for writers who still include "what has come before" sections at the beginning of their books. This is a problem that's recently greatly troubled me because I read so many series. It sucks getting old.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:16 AM on August 9, 2020 [2 favorites]

I used rot13 above as a courtesy to posters that hadn't finished the book, and I couldn't find a spoilers-related tag in the "HTML help" link.
posted by sukeban at 8:11 AM on August 9, 2020

I've reread Gideon the Ninth several times - including immediately after finishing it the first time - but I'm not sure when I'll dig back into this. Felt much more a slog to me. On the upside, I think finishing it should get me most of the way to some kind of biology minor*.

Things I want to ruminate on a bit:

* Harrow being unable to let Gideon go as author being unable to let a favorite character go; spinning and spinning and spinning out endless alt-history in some attempt to get by until they can deal? Feel like 2/3 of book was this.

* I have no idea what the hell Harrow was doing at the end. Clearly she used the hyperspace nature of the River to pop back home but I'm unclear if she surfaced in the universe or some shadow of it, or why.

* There's something really powerful about how Muir is exploring Harrow's experience of "madness" and I'm extremely curious whether Harrow was, in fact, experiencing that pre-drilling a hole in her head or not. In any case, with ~everything happening~ in the world right now, I had a lot of Big Emotions reading along with someone who was having some real serious mental struggles. Descriptions of obsessive behaviors, of not trusting what you could see (or not), all while knowing that something was happening in your brain, is.. a lot.

* P taking Nav's glasses there was beautiful in retrospect, tho it's curious that John didn't comment on them.

* Did John wipe out Sol humanity in order to reboot it? Did the BOE folks emigrate before or after?

* In a real sense we didn't actually get a Harrow book, because this was.. some other Harrow. It's appropriate that Harrow hid her plans even from herself and us, though.

* I feel like there are definite scenes that Muir has written around interesting lines. She dropped in the "while you were X I was learning the sword" bit in GtN, then there was "gall on gall" and "Hi, I'm Dad" in this one. There's an (apocryphal?) story that Zelazy wrote Lord of Light based off the pun "Then the fit hit the Shan," and I wouldn't be surprised if some of that was going on here.

Seriously tho there are so many bones.

*I'm actively looking to buy a good skeletal anatomy reference now
posted by curious nu at 12:20 PM on August 9, 2020 [4 favorites]

Impressions:WTF. It's perfect. I mean, the book was a slog at times, but it had to be. In the re-read, slightly more ominicent, looking for clues: it does what it says on the tin.

I mean, I think the story has to be viewed as either a "lesbian necromancer romp in space" where it flags in places, or an excellent trauma narrative, removed from the mundane, to hilight how bazaar such experiences can be. I can only make sense of it from the trauma pov.

Harrow, the main character, is a bit player. I mean she has to be. She's a teen with an oversized sense of power thrust into an adult world, with olds who play out but don't necessarily articulate their grievences, plots or story arcs. Why would they? She's a kid. An abused child, whom these adults also abuse. While alternating their attention with just the right amount of care to keep her hooked. Sometimes, she scares them, the olds, because she'll demonstrate an agency / truly fucked up viewpoint, they weren't expecting, despite some of their attempts to actually (if unwillingly) murder her, while also pretending to protect her.

Harrow whose POV we witness/experience this from (sorta) isn't in on the "joke.". How can she be? Her tendency to center herself comes from not just naievity due to inexperience with how olds function, but a childhood of neglect before being thrust into complicated, universe altering, adult politics. No, that's too generous. Really. She's a teen who in the previous book underwent an indoctrination ritual into a cult, and has been isolated by said "extended family" for purposes they only half explain. Welcome to life, lesbian necrolord or no.

As readers, we're engaged and along for the "here's what happened" -- trainwreck -- part of this abused child's life, and responding through WTFs, noping out, munching popcorn, and/or just enjoying the ride. What we get out of it, or how we sort the pieces, an allegory to chaos some people generate in RL that we have a tendency to disengage from (thanks to healthier experiences) and/or appreciation for the story just being fucked, is kinda the point of this middle book.

I'm assuming that the 3rd book will involve "Harrow" picking up the pieces, learning how the world works, sorting through her experiences and creating a cohesive narrative.

That's all I think I need to say, but I'd like to flesh out where we're at in the middle book a little more...

In the second book, Harrow's isolated in a compound with a handful of other people, only one her age, obstensably to protect the leader of the group. She's here because she's supposedly one of the most powerful people in the universe, and also, the shittiest/most insane and scapegoated person to do the job. Her intrigues are petty, and the actions she's taken to protect herself, play very little role in the external experiences, but are essential for her future survival. Realizing she's getting through this by lying to herself and navigating insanity, while wanting to appease the people in the system around her becomes essential. Harrow doesn't question her situation. Doesn't see it as abuse, doesn't question her presumed power, role she's expected to play or the dirersion others treat her with.

I mean, she's been groomed for this her whole life. Much of that is discussed in the first book and some of it rehashed here (including characters who reclaim their power, and confusing convos with said who apologize for not having been there for her in the "right" ways). Consider that her parents while functionally absent, impressed upon her the importance and value of her role in the family unit. It falls on her from a young age to "keep up the appearances" of her family unit, "secret keeping" and all. When she goes off and meets the other houses (indoctrination/gifted high school/whatevs) we learn of their dysfunctions, and stuff that reinforces her experiences, while her peers simultaneously look at her and described her home life and actions as fucked up.

After surviving summer camp, where her trauma is compounded by others, school shootings and etc, and she does what she needs to survive, she finds herself rescued / abused by this new group of adults and the entire story from her POV is the "bubble" she creates to survive. We watch this come to a grinding halt, witness her trauma being burried, and a version of harrow learning how to live in the wider world asking "who am I"

Or maybe I'm reading way too much into it, and it's just lesbian necromancers on a romp with some interesting world building that looses all ability to reason somewhere in the middle, which is exactly what it felt like at times.
posted by bindr at 9:16 AM on August 10, 2020 [12 favorites]

Spoiler warning!

When Harrow confesses to God that she went into The Locked Tomb. And God's all "oh poor naive child, you couldn't possibly have unpicked those wards. It is literally impossible for anyone who isn't me." And we're free to assume this is another instance of Harrow losing it. Because IIRC in the first book Harrow mentions how anticlimactic the tomb's internal defences were when she went inside resigned to die - no wards, nothing.


When Gideon's parentage was revealed, did anyone else leap to the conclusion that Gideon had secretly gone inside The Locked Tomb before Harrow, disarming the final wards by her presence?
posted by Lorc at 11:12 AM on August 10, 2020 [3 favorites]

When Gideon's parentage was revealed, did anyone else leap to the conclusion that Gideon had secretly gone inside The Locked Tomb before Harrow, disarming the final wards by her presence?

What I guess is that, if it happened, it happened after Gideon tried to strangle Harrow and Harrow scratched Gideon's face so hard that "blood was running down her hands" (quote from memory).
posted by sukeban at 10:40 PM on August 10, 2020 [9 favorites]

Ooh, good catch!
posted by Lorc at 1:43 AM on August 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

Just finished the audiobook.

What I liked:

1. The reader is good, she brings just the right amount of drama and cynicism.

2. The braided plot, which is very confusing at first but comes together nicely, if you give it a chance. Just when it seems it will fly apart, it comes together.

3. Muir's vocabulary -- no one deploys words like "pallid" and "grit" like Muir.

4. I like Harrow a lot, even in her somewhat diminished state. She is generally unmoved by horror, although she's wary of danger, but she is complete undone by her elders kissing or talking about sex. She is, after all, eighteen. She is also brave and resourceful. Her attacks against the Saint of Duty are, well, genius.

5. The concept of the world keeps getting nuttier. "I'm going to teach you to murder planets, to stop the murderous ghost of a planet."

6. Mercymorn's continual down-aging of Harrow (and Ianthe). "You can't send them; they are only 5 years old."

7. Generally, a great ballance of horror, humor, and drama, with amazingly damaged people trying to do (sort of) the right thing in the worst world.

Stuff I didn't like:

1. For a bunch of immortal necromancers, the Lyctors sure don't do much necromancy. Harrow is a necromantic genius, but she seems like 10 times the necromancer of all the others combined, which just seems...wrong. Also, the Lyctors were kind of blunt tools for immortal plotters. Maybe they aren't as clever as they've been made out to be. All that power leads to dull strategy.

2. Again, the ending seemed rushed. Could have used a bit more space to let all the parts fall together.

3. Some of the plot elements seem to come out of thin air, but I'm rereading Gideon, and Muir was laying some pretty subtle pipe in places.

All in all, a totally enjoyable read, although an acquired taste (well, if you haven't already acquired it).
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:33 PM on August 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

I tore through it too late on a work night, so I will have to reread at a more sensible pace. I really had trouble following things and at points just sort of gave up and skimmed a bit. I like Harrow, but the books sing so much more in Gideon’s voice.

Most of the meme references are fine and might even make me chuckle a bit when I spot them but the “none pizza left beef” ref legitimately bounced me out of the mood of the book. I can roll with that in lighter moments but during a heavy bit, making me think of a dumb internet meme didn’t work for me.
posted by PussKillian at 9:10 AM on August 12, 2020 [4 favorites]

GenjiandProust: I am listening to the audiobook as well, so thank you for telling me all of this comes together. I’m at the end of chapter 4 and even though I read Gideon only a month ago, completely lost.

Does anyone know if there’s a read-along recap series anywhere? It doesn’t look like Tor is going one.
posted by Ian A.T. at 8:41 PM on August 13, 2020

After posting the previous comment, I read this spoilery review of the book, which discusses in broad strokes the major plot points of the book.

Normally, I’m very spoiler-averse and like to go into something knowing as little as possible, but in this case I’m glad I read that review as it gave me some big-picture context for what I was listening to and has made the journey a lot more enjoyable for me. And while it definitely summarizes the plot, it doesn’t go into enough detail to ruin the experience of reading it. Or at least, it didn’t for me.

So, if you’re struggling as well and you don’t mind having a general idea of the entire plot, I guess I recommend it? YMMV
posted by Ian A.T. at 12:33 PM on August 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

(edit -- apologies if this reposts; seems to have vanished).

One thing that astonishes me about these books is how consistently well-constructed they are; stray jokes pay off hundreds of pages later, and even seeming diversions matter. When Ortus's dire epic poem, a running joke forever, suddenly becomes a key part of the conclusion, and launches him into genuine melancholic hero grandeur, I was gobsmacked. It's exceptionally hard to pull all this off, and I love how Muir manages to do it over and over again, in consistently surprising ways.

I think the memes that crop up (none planet with left grief) here and there are part of this -- not just in-jokes. This is 10,000 years after our immediate present, and it's striking that the memers are those who plausibly could know that -- Emperor John who was there, and Commander Wake, whose rebel people seem to more directly remember us, as they are free of John's cult. Wake's people seem to have constructed their culture out of scraps of ours -- look at her name, with Shakespeare, NZ's national anthen, and Emimem jostling for primacy (here's an amazing reading of it). John, I think, uses mem call-backs in the same way he uses Edgar Allen Poe in renaming Alecto for Annabel Lee in their post-disaster kingdom by the sea when they were the only people left. They give him a chance to be aloof from the people he made (how could the necrosaints know about grumpy cat?) while tethering himself back to a time before he was God. It's quite the author that can make internet jokes part of a tragic post-apocalypse necrocult and its opponents, and have that make sense.
posted by SandCounty at 8:08 PM on August 30, 2020 [3 favorites]

Just finished. Slow rolled it to make it last and loved it. Was confused as hell the first 2/3's, just hanging on for the ride, enjoying the mood, the language, the names, but wondering where oh where was our dearly departed. Was. not. disappointed.

The Barista bit totally floored me, but it made the subtle humor everywhere else even more enjoyable. I feel secure in Muir's hands, knowing she knows what the hell she's doing to us.

Can't wait for part 3.
posted by OHenryPacey at 2:35 PM on September 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

I think we're maybe in for a reality where Harrow and Gideon become a version of John/Alecto. The latter pair were the result of the "perfect" lyctoral process, which left both effectively immortal, but which either twisted one (or both) of them into monsters (or maybe they were already monsters). Depending on how you read the final moments where Harrow (herself) climbs into the coffin in the locked tomb where Alecto was stashed, it seems like both Harrow (herself) and Harrow (Gideon) are alive and physically in the world at the same time? Meaning that through the tortured version of the lyctoral process that Harrow inflicted on herself, they both came out alive? So, it's possible we now have two Harrows, one of which is Gideon and both of which are nigh-unkillable superhuman powerplants of cursing and portentousness.

Or maybe not!
posted by that's candlepin at 1:48 PM on September 21, 2020

In that scene Harrow finds a copy of the porn mag Gideon makes up at the beginning of the first book. I have no idea where she's at, but I assume it's not reality.

I *think* we have Gideon in Harrow's body and Gideon's body in automatic pilot with Camilla and the BoE, but who knows.
posted by sukeban at 8:25 AM on September 22, 2020

I've got a theory which will probably be disproved by book 3: it hasn't actually been 10,000 years but only a few hundred. John, messing around with the neglected science of necromancy, accidentally kills everyone in the solar system. With his newfound thanergic power, he manages to revive a few million people, but they all come back kind of dazed with shattered memories, so for some reason he tells them it's the year 9800 A.J. or some such. Canaan House is old but not a hundred centuries old!
posted by moonmilk at 5:00 PM on September 22, 2020

My theory is that either:
a) Alecto is an actual demon. There are hellmouths, so why not demons? Plus the whole "gain power by binding yourself to a demon" is a classic.

b) Alecto is the soul/resurrection beast of the entire solar system.

I think the latter is more likely to be the case, but the twist of "magic that turns out to be technology actually turns out to be old-fashioned dealing with the devil" appeals to me, in that, despite all the attempts to make necromancy scientific and respectable, it really is just literally selling your soul to satan for power.
posted by Pyry at 2:00 PM on September 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

I may be imagining things, but in the last scene with Camilla, her eyes are described in a way that makes me think they're actually Palamedes's eyes. Which would mean there's another weird Lyctoral combo, with Palamedes as a revenant in the armbone Harrow made made for him. Do revenants retain their necromantic abilities?
posted by expialidocious at 9:20 PM on October 6, 2020 [2 favorites]

OK, I finally read this one after avoiding spoilers for yonks (I accidentally read one sentence of one review that mentioned the book actually contains a coffeshop AU fanfic of itself and decided I DID NOT WANT TO KNOW ANYTHING MORE).

For the first three quarters of the book my response could basically be summed up as "WHEEE!" I was totally down for strapping myself in and letting it carry me along without the first clue why anything was happening. It contains exactly the kind of swings between serious and hilarious ("Why am I talking in meter?" HAHAHAHAHAHAHA) that I adore.

But then ... there was a serious drop-off for me. When things started being explained at the end, it Really. Bogged. Down. for me. Part of it was simply how long it took for everything to unspool (I mean, there were, what, five different semi-unrelated things going on to account for what was happening?) and part of it was how some of it played out (that was a surprising amount of hiding-in-a-closet-overhearing-things.) It wasn't that what was going on wasn't interesting - it totally was! - but it felt like the "and now let me explain" section went on way too long and in much too flat a way for my tastes.

I still liked the book a lot -- I gave it a solid four stars -- and am looking forward to Alecto the Ninth, but because of the hundred pages or so towards the end before things start exploding again, I did not love it quite as much as I loved Gideon the Ninth.
posted by kyrademon at 10:29 AM on October 7, 2020 [3 favorites]

This is 10,000 years after our immediate present, and it's striking that the memers are those who plausibly could know that -- Emperor John who was there, and Commander Wake, whose rebel people seem to more directly remember us, as they are free of John's cult.

Ianthe quotes Homestar Runner.

This was a delightful read. I didn't remember a lot of the finer details from book 1 and that only added to the confusion as it very gradually became clear that Harrow didn't either.
posted by one for the books at 10:36 PM on October 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

The plot of Gideon was a complicated fetch-quest/murder mystery mashup with a too-long boss battle at the end. Where it really shone was Gideon's voice.

The plot of Harrow had a lot more going on. I liked it a lot. I kept dogearing pages to go back to (because it was clear when a clue had been dropped, but not what it was a clue TO--there were a multitude of overlapping mysteries). There were far fewer characters to keep track of, but it was nice we got to go back to catch up with some of the characters from Gideon who were underrepresented. Harrow's voice was all right, but when Gideon's came back it really supercharged the narrative.

I like that the worldbuilding is a mystery of its own. We're left guessing at so much of the history and shape of reality. That can really annoy me in some books, but Muir is constantly feeding enough information, and letting us solve enough other mysteries that it doesn't feel like sadistic withholding or cheating the reader.

John/Emperor/God is such a good villain, because he seems so non-evil for so long, and yet you KNOW he can't be good.
posted by rikschell at 11:38 AM on October 20, 2020 [3 favorites]

I did not ask for or in any way expect the triumphant emotional catharsis of.... Ortus????

but it was a true highlight anyway, a gift
posted by vibratory manner of working at 2:28 AM on January 4, 2021 [5 favorites]

Loved it, but not as much as the first book. Some of the jokes were too cute for me and bumped me out of my suspended disbelief. I also struggled with how passive Harrow was - she had no goal, she was just kind of drifting from event to event trying not to get killed (but we knew she wouldn’t get killed), in total reactive mode. What drove the plot forward was a combination of implausible coincidences (I mean really, Camilla just happened to be on some rando planet at the exact hour that Harrow was there, and in the exact rando jungle?). Plus the “rules” kept getting more complicated, which felt like a deus ex machina way for the author to get her characters out of their various corners. This particularly annoyed me with Gideon’s cavalier not being fully consumed (whatever that means, and suddenly that’s a thing?). Agree that Gideon’s voice is also a lot more fun and engaging than Harrow’s (what a prig, and I don’t care how you were raised, no one prefers a tepid bath to a hot one). Will still buy the next book on day 1.
posted by prefpara at 7:22 PM on January 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

> Camilla just happened to be on some rando planet at the exact hour that Harrow was there, and in the exact rando jungle

I thought Camilla said she was there looking for Harrow? How she found Harrow I have no idea, but it wasn't a coincidence
posted by vibratory manner of working at 10:15 PM on January 4, 2021 [4 favorites]

I’ve listened to the audio book twice in the past few weeks and have largely struggled with it. I think I would’ve enjoyed the book more if I was reading the text instead of listening to it.

I similarly struggled with understanding Gideon (also did two trips through that one). Gideon had a very opaque (to me) cast of characters (20+ is a lot to keep track of), and while Harrow has a smaller cast, the plot was equally opaque to me. I had a very hard time discerning factions and motivations. Some of this is because with an audiobook (especially one I listen to while doing other things/falling asleep at bight), I have no choice but to keep moving forward, rather than being able to go over a section multiple times until I understand it.

Also, while I love Harrow as a character, she’s not really herself for most of this book. She’s diminished in both timelines, and I missed the fire of the first book. (Though I think John is a great addition).

Overall, I’ll keep re-reading these two and pick up book 3 when it’s out, but I have no investment in the plot—only the characters and the author’s style. Despite the large ensembles of each book, I never get a sense of the civilization that I assume people are trying to protect/preserve. I’ve never noticed the story taking place in a population center—only deserted planets and an isolated space craft. I can never tell if there’s a real threat to humanity, or just the petty squabbles of people who have been alive too long and have too much power.
posted by itesser at 1:20 AM on July 8, 2021 [2 favorites]

TOR has just announced it: the next book in the series won't be Alecto the Ninth but Nona the Ninth, then Alecto. We're getting four Locked Tomb books!
posted by sukeban at 10:54 AM on July 30, 2021 [5 favorites]

I just finished this. Aaaaand I kinda want to go reread Gideon and then reread this because I'm guessing it'll be very different knowing what I know now. I do so like Harrow-as-mad in the trauma-processing part of this. It's a very internal experience of mental illness from the point of view of a character who knows she's ill, and I don't think it's something I've seen a lot of.

I am also curious what the greater world here is like - the closest we've gotten is seeing the crew of the flagship at the beginning. And while I found them amusing, some of the current-internet-culture-specific jokes in characters' dialogue seemed a bit twee. "No house left grief" and "jail for Mother" are both so very specific in the time placement. People have been riffing on Wilde's "Importance of Being Earnest" line about how "losing both looks like carelessness" for over a century, but I don't see these memes having some kind of "Ready Player One" level staying power across decades, nevermind centuries.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:55 AM on October 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

You're not wrong, but it's worth noting that None Pizza with Left Beef is from 2007, so already has already cleared the "decades" hurdle
posted by vibratory manner of working at 6:57 AM on October 30, 2021 [2 favorites]

Conveniently, I had a lot of time this weekend sitting around waiting with my phone and an ebook copy of Gideon (thanks, Tor!). So I did end up rereading it this past weekend and there is a fair bit that Muir has set up in the first book that does pay off (or start paying off) in Harrow - definitely more things than I'd remembered.
posted by rmd1023 at 10:25 AM on October 31, 2021 [1 favorite]

Nona the Ninth cover reveal!! out September 13!
posted by snerson at 9:17 PM on January 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

That is clearly a VERY GOOD DOG on the cover.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:27 AM on February 4, 2022

While we're waiting for September, Tor.com has posted As Yet Unsent! It's a short story featuring Judith Deuteros that was included as an extra in the trade paperback of Harrow.
posted by ectabo at 7:30 PM on June 15, 2022 [4 favorites]

Okay, so, I am just starting this book (Thank you, GenjiandProust!) after devouring Gideon. I have skipped reading most of this thread, because, of course, spoilers. And, I have a deep feeling this book contains far more twists/turns/wtf’s than Gideon. To wit...

I am about 1/4 through the book and I am really being thrown for a loop by the retconning of the events in Gideon. I’m assuming the structure jumping from third-person to second-person and back is part of that puzzle. At least I hope it is. Otherwise...*shrugs*

That said, I find that jumping very involving. I like it.

So far, I am eating this up every bit as much as I did Gideon.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:56 PM on September 22, 2022

380 pages in.

One single word.


posted by Thorzdad at 11:44 AM on September 27, 2022 [4 favorites]

Late to the party, having just finished this. I slogged through it in tiny segments, no speed-reading for me. Very worthwhile though. Look forward to future editions requiring eleventy billion annotations and footnotes for all the little meme- and pop-culture references.

An interesting take on the first two books: The Locked Tomb Series exploration of death and grieving.
posted by Coaticass at 7:56 PM on December 7, 2022

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